Martine Rose Addresses the State of the Nation in SS20

Go backstage at the designer’s LFWM show.

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Closing out the penultimate day of London Fashion Week: Men’s, Martine Rose — arguably the city’s most exciting designer — took aim at the political situation in Britain and across the world. The stand-out graphic throughout Rose’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection was the phrase “Promising Britain,” featuring a clown and surrounded by the stars of the EU flag.

“Promising Britain is obviously a comment on the state of our government at the moment, the fact that they are all clowns,” explained Rose following the show, “I did lots of cartoon prints and clowns that feel sort of playful but sinister as well, because there is something laughable about what’s happening, but also absolutely terrifying.”

Rose’s political critique continued into the show’s location, the roof of a corporate office block in London’s financial center, and other elements of the collection. “It also inspired a lot of the cuts,” she continued, “things worn inside out, upside down, back to front. Because that’s really how everything feels at the moment. Not just on a local level or a national level, but on an international level it all feels a bit confusing.”

Along with the pessimistic references — which also included resin-treated denim to create “things feeling slightly undone, feeling slightly ruined” — Rose also hit an optimistic note. Pieces throughout the collection came with a badge saying “Magic Change Ahead.” Speaking about the glimmer of hope, Rose explained that “at the end of it, there’s people, and people are what matter. You can get caught up in theories and terrifying things, but on a grassroots level, on a human level, that is always optimistic. I believe in humans and our relationships together, despite all of the terrifying things that govern us.”

As well as the collection’s political influence, there were also familiar Martine Rose themes throughout. The exploration of music and subcultures continued, with the 1980s acting as a particular reference point. Throughout the collection, there were nods to groups including new romantics, football hooligans, skinheads and proto-ravers. The ’80s was chosen as a reference as it was a time when people had hidden sides — office workers becoming ravers, for example — and due to Rose’s memories of going to post-rave gatherings in South London “when people from all backgrounds and scenes came together in a space free from discrimination.”

For more from LFWM, take a look at A-COLD-WALL*’s “MATERIAL STUDY FOR SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE.”

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